As some of you will know, a few months ago I embarked on a mission so boring that even I thought I was mad to do it.
Believe me, hexing out a 12' by 6' table in 3" hexes (actually 7 cm across flats) is not a joyful experience.
I did it because I'm coming to the opinion that ancient naval games are probably best played out on a gridded playing surface, a hex grid (or 'squexes') probably being best. The grid might also prove useful for future games with WW1 aeroplanes.
Whilst I intend to re-write my Fleet of Battle rules for use with hexes at some point, I also purchased War Galley by GMT games. This hex based board game was recommended to me at a show a couple of years back.
Last night, Graham and I played through the smallest scenario. We didn't use miniatures. Instead we used the board game straight out of the box.
I thought this would be the easiest way to play the game for the first time.
The game played quite well, I think. The rules are complex enough to make the game interesting but simple enough to pick up quickly. The most complex part of the game is sorting groups of ships into squadrons for activation at the start of each turn - ships are not in fixed squadrons. This isn't difficult in itself; remembering what is in each squadron and what has activated in each turn is more so, even with just a dozen or so ships a side.
What was irritating about the game was the small size of the hexes (20 mm), ship counters and recording counters involved in the game: War Galley is probably the most 'fiddly' game I've ever played - it is awful! Perhaps it's because I'm no longer used to playing these small counter board games; whatever, I doubt I'll play it as a boardgame again.
Next week we will play it again, but this time on much bigger hexes using my model galleys.
We'll use the recording counters from the game but as the table hexes are three and a half times bigger, and have sufficient vacant room to hold them easily, we will not endlessly knock stuff in nearby hexes about.
Beads denote side (red Roman, green Carthaginian). Each fleet has two grades of quinquireme. This Carthaginian galley has one green bead - so it is 'type 1'.
I'm going to do a scenario based on Drepanum in the scenario book. I've scaled down the number of galleys involved from 31 a side to 21 a side; otherwise force composition is as per the GMT scenario. This should make the game quicker and give a little more sea room. Having played last night, I don't see any advantage in fielding 31 galleys a side; I think 21 will do just as well. Scaling seems to be quite arbitrary within the rules, ranging from one to one to one to ten; I've increased the scaling for this scenario from one to four to one to six, which still falls well within range.
I've also changed the initial deployments to something that I believe is much nearer to the starting positions just before battle was joined proper. It's something close to a halfway house between the two possible set ups in the scenario book.
I've played this battle several times before using other rules, so it's quite a good one to do using War Galley mechanics.
It will give me a good idea of what these rules can offer.
I'm hopeful about these rules; I'll post an after action report at the end of next week.
Note to self - get the back of that office chair fixed!